(this is a serial fiction series, published arbitrarily in chunks as the writer sees fit…begin at the beginning, if you wish, or begin here and read in whatever random order suits you, either way, the story has been written, in its entirety, and is published at regular intervals, here and elsewhere…peace)
Within the Terrace of the Third Coax, the older woman escorts Kevin back down, through the hillside where they meet the three escorts awaiting their return at the stream. Crossing the stream, the group of five turns toward the opposite direction from whence they initially came and heads toward a rounded, spherical structure rising high above the tops of the bamboo shoots. Once inside, the other three escorts stand, neatly organized behind Kira and greet the older woman with a gentle bowing of the head and a, “Ma’am.” The older woman gestures for Kira, “Kira, please keep Kevin conscious. A decision has been made to determine to what extent Kevin deceives in the recollection of the moment on Earth before the incident here.” “Yes, ma’am. And what am I to do with Kevin for the time being?” Kira responds. Facing Kevin now, “Are you hungry?” the older woman asks. “Uh, I, um, yea, I could eat,” Kevin mumbles. “Speak up, dear,” the older woman condescends; “Yes, food is eaten here, if that’s what you’re wondering.” Kevin looks distressed, “Yea, sure, okay.” Knowingly, Kira walks over to Kevin, places a hand on his shoulder and leads him through the base of the tower toward a staircase that wraps around the outer edge of the inner wall of the tower, up toward the floors above. The six escorts, also knowingly, follow.
The older woman stands alone, centered, in the lowest portion of the structure and looks at the Lingerer, “You may tell about all that you know.”
“Your creative powers cannot help clarify the oddities or peculiarities of the situations that unfold.”
“Supposedly, a few confusions regarding the happenings here have amassed.”
“Yes. Then by all means, tell them what you know.”
“The nature of the existence of those about whom you so frequently speak.”
“Including yourself, ma’am?”
“Excluding all others, mostly because you don’t know what they know, meaning that an outline of your personal knowledge and/or theories/inferences on the subject will suffice?”
“As opposed to?”
“As opposed to a deceptive retelling, thereby shaping the dissemination of falsehoods as fact.”
“Tell the facts as you know them.”
“It all sounds very droll to present them in this way.”
“Your creative powers lack the necessary skills. When you are done with this assignment, you will wait further instruction before saying anything more.”
“So this is my final assignment?”
“Of course not, darling.”
“That sounds like a ‘yes’.”
“Well, you could be finished now then, if you’d prefer.”
“Excellent! Please, then, by all means, begin.” A moment passes while pure silence emanates and fills the room. “According to the information and observances …” “Do not be an idiot,” the older woman interrupts; “Do not speak aloud, merely tell them.” “Oh, yes … Ma’am.” “Stick to what you know,” the older woman demands, and “Creative freedom/exploration will not assist in the matter.” “Understood. Ma’am.” The older woman’s eyes narrow as silence returns to fill the space. After a moment, the older woman cheers, “Excellent!,” and then, “Please,” the older woman permits along with a gesture of approval.
According to the information and observances given as the disseminator of the knowledge and theories/inferences of the older woman, the existence and peculiarities of time travelers are to be henceforth explained for accurate propagation with the intent to avoid the false fecundity of the matter regarding the travelers of time.
Time Travelers or “TTs” are paired with no specific emphasis on gender. For instance, a pair may be made up of one male and one female, one female and one male, one male and another male, one female and another female. This is all arbitrary, of course, because in any given iteration, either TT may exist as a male or female. Most TTs, however, have an internal gender identity that remains constant. Some, obviously, possess more fluid gender identities that are affected greatly by the gender of a specific iteration.
When a TT encounters his/her pair, the two, according to ambiguous, non-existent consistencies, “Make Green,” which then forces the two into a new time and place, referred to as a timescape. Time is nonlinear, obviously, for the TTs. When arriving in a new timescape, that time falls upon a linear idea of time, which can be understood with the words “before” and “after”. Thus, a TT may arrive to a timescape either before or after the time from when they made green.
A TT cannot travel independent of his/her pair. This becomes painfully apparent to all TTs after about the 100th iteration. Whether or not all TTs feel pained about this cannot be known. Also, no one can verify at which point each pairing becomes aware of this inextricable connection. Each TT experiences the void between making green and appearing in the next timescape differently. There are five different experiences recorded thus far, and so, it is presumed that every TT’s experience is unique. For much of their existence, TTs cannot control when/where in time they will surface.
TTs are ageless, not in that they cannot age but rather, in the sense that they do not know what age they are. They are “aged” by iteration, but even the number of iterations a TT has embodied cannot be known for certain. For example, perhaps a TT becomes conscious in a particular timescape for the “first” time. That does not necessarily mean that he/she has not existed in a “previous” time, meaning that the “first” time would have to precede the “previous” time and so on and so forth. Within each iteration, a TT may exist in a specific timescape for one second or for an infinite amount of time. Most TTs, however, prefer to travel…extensively. When existing in a single iteration, a TT will age at about the same rate of normal people, until “adulthood” (TTs always look a little young), at which point the TT will age about one year every ten years with a steady slowing, meaning that maybe after thirty years, the TT will begin to age one year every eleven or twelve years, and then maybe another thirty years after that, the TT will age one year every fifteen or twenty years and so on and so forth. Basically, TTs appear to never age in the eyes of normal people who live and die for only a fraction of any TTs lifetime within one iteration, if a TT chooses to remain/return to the same iteration. Returning to specific iterations will be explained later.
Knowing how old a TT is on a linear model of time is impossible. They are never “born” into a timescape (more on that later). Some TTs obsess over figuring out exactly how “old” they are. Theoretically, the only way to find out how old a TT truly is would be to track down one’s Splitter (and sometimes, even their Listmaker will do), but that will be discussed a little later. TTs do not die, but they can be killed. If/when a TT is killed or commits suicide, they do not make green. Instead, the killed TT simply transports immediately to the next timescape, pulling his/her pair along into the next iteration. This, of course, almost never happens, but it is assumed that every TT pair will experience this at least once.
Although TTs may seem as if they are telepathic, the reality is that after living over a multitude of iterations and timescapes, mere people are supremely predictable. In and amongst themselves, however, TTs can communicate through a sort of simultaneous existence known as halbherzig or “half-hearted” or in this case, “half-minded” whereupon each TT sends his/her mind halfway into the mind of the other, connected, sharing a consciousness. Some TTs are wary of this practice, and so, develop a mental fortitude against such intrusions. Most TTs, however, never encounter other TTs aside from their pair.
TTs can travel (seemingly) instantaneously within a specific timescape, but the actuality of the skill is merely a perception. A TT will travel away from a particular moment into another timescape (perhaps, even living a lifetime there) and then travel back into the previous timescape at a moment in the future of that initial timescape. When regular folk observe this occurrence, it seems as if the TT has magically disappeared and reappeared. Magic, as it were, feels like a simplistic reconciliation, but alas, the rigidity of the minds of normal people ought not be punished when considering the shortness of their lives. Control of this type of travel to and from specific times and places requires extensive self-awareness of which very few TT pairs are capable.
Now to the good stuff. After a particular amount of time, which differs for each TT pair, each TT of a pair will undergo a “splitting” of consciousness, meaning that two new entities (one from each of the two that make the pair) or Zersts come into being who are able to travel through time by the make-green method. The TTs who split may thus be referenced as Hapzers. When a Hapzer’s Zerst, becomes a Hapzer, the Hapzer of the newly formed Hapzer becomes a Letz. When a Hapzer becomes a Letz, he/she loses his/her ability to time travel. This, of course, takes place over an unknowable amount of time. No one knows for sure what happens after a Letz comes into being, since, as currently known, there are only a handful of Letzs in existence who have ever existed.
The nature of TTs splitting is why knowing the exact age of any one TT proves impossible. The only way a TT could find out his/her age would be through the discovery of his/her Hapzer. Theoretically, a Hapzer could inform a Zerst of the exact time of the Zerst’s becoming, but most Hapzer’s are unaware of the fact that they have even split. Therefore an exact date could not be concluded. Even if, under the improbable circumstance, a Hapzer knew the exact date of his/her own splitting, the relativity of time makes an accurate aging system impossible. For instance, a TT could split in the “Year 2200,” but the Zerst could have already lived in, say, 2010, through his/her own time travel, essentially existing “before” having been brought into being in 2200. As a side note, a TT may be sprouted and not know it until he/she encounters his/her pair or dies only to awake into another timescape.
Knowing now what the older woman believes to understand about TTs and the existence of them, she has a theory or an inference about the nature of her Letz state. The older woman theorizes that a Letz could kill his/her Zerst thereby regaining/retrieving his/her own time traveling abilities. Needless to say, the only way to then find out if one’s abilities have returned is to either commit suicide or be killed. The risk, however, is that if the “theory” proves incorrect, meaning one remains without the ability to time travel, the Letz would die, forever be gone, find The End. But, if the inference proves true, the Letz would merely awaken into another timescape, intact and essentially be free of his/her TT pair. But then a question remains: How does one travel from then on without “dying.” So far, “death” (or the state of no longer existing) reveals itself to be the only logical technique for solo time travel.
“Excellent,” the older woman interjects in conclusion; “What then rises to become the most problematic aspect of this complex situation?”
“Sorry, Ma’am, but I don’t understand. How could such a thing be known by someone who does not possess these time-traveling abilities?”
“Understood. Alright then, the time has officially come,” the older woman responds, and then shouts, “Kira! Please bring the Earth-man down here now.”
Shortly after the request, Kira appears at the upper-most visible area of the staircase and makes her way down with Kevin, the Earth-man, in tow. Seated, still, in the middle of the spherical space, the older woman gestures for Kevin to approach. Kira remains standing at the base of the staircase. “Kevin, dear,” the older woman begins. “Yes?” Kevin responds, and then, after realizing his error, corrects, “Ma’am. Yes?” “Kevin, dear,” the older woman repeats. “Yes, Ma’am?” Kevin abruptly states at attention. Looking over the Earth-man, sizing him up a bit, the older woman finally teases, “Are you a time-traveler?” “Ma’am?” Kevin confusedly requests for clarity. “About what are you confused, dear?” the older woman mocks. “Uh, I, uh, I mean, I guess I understand the question,” Kevin mumbles. “Very well, then what is your reply?” the older woman asks, along with a flowery gesture of the hand. Kevin stands, begins to shake a bit, looks around and closes in on himself. “Kevin!” the older woman shouts. “Yes? Ma’am?” Kevin murmurs with head hanging low, feeling small. “Answer the question,” the older woman coolly demands. “No, no, I, uh, no, I don’t think so,” Kevin finally spits out. The older woman sighs aloud, “You don’t think what, dear?” “I, I, I, don’t think I’m a time-traveler,” Kevin complies, looking truly awful. “Excellent. Now, Kevin, imagine that you were a time-traveler,” the older woman poses, and then, as the older woman waits a moment, asks, “Are you imagining such a thing?” “Uh, yea, yes, Ma’am,” Kevin admits as a clear, mostly-spherical bubble forms above his head. Of the type made of soapy water, the amorphous bauble begins to shimmer, and inside, small sprinkles of colorful confetti begin to pop to and fro between various nondescript forms.
“Very good,” the older woman congratulates, rising to a stand for a better look into Kevin’s bauble. Kevin, looking severe, sweating, eyes closed, shivers a bit while hugging himself, unaware of the image forming above him. “Now, that you believe that you can travel through time, what do you think it would be like to travel through time?” the older woman challenges. “I, I, don’t know,” Kevin stutters as the image of a young woman, who is obviously not Kevin, begins to form within the bauble. The older woman looks supremely pleased, “You don’t have to know, dear. Simply tell what you imagine.” Fluid, the bauble reveals the young woman speaking directly to the observer, assumedly, Kevin. Kevin shakes his head a bit, “I imagine … I imagine …” And then, the bauble erupts into a vivid unfolding of events. “Very good, Kevin,” the older woman encourages while pacing around Kevin, intently watching the events unfold. “I imagine that everything, like the world, sort of disappears, like everything just goes blank or like white or like you kind of die, and then you wait in some strange place, like a bathtub or pool or something, anywhere strange, I guess.” All the while, image after image swirl and form above Kevin, but he seems fully unaware of the fact, since his words hardly match the images themselves. “Yes, and then what happens?” the older woman prods, not caring about the words. “And then, I guess, maybe like you get sucked up like in a vacuum, or like that’s what it feels like,” Kevin continues. “Very good, dear,” the older woman commends with a knowing glance and gesture to Kira. Kevin begins to relax a bit. Kira slowly approaches Kevin. The images in the bauble begin to whirl in a flurry. Quickly, Kira dream-captures him. Kevin jolts upright and stands tall, confident, “Then everything feels warm or soft, and then you just sort of wake up like from a bad dream or something?”
“Excellent, Kevin, dear,” the older woman states warmly with a hand on Kevin’s shoulder. Kevin opens his eyes and the bauble pops and dissipates. The Earth-man lifts his head and looks toward the ceiling, “What just happened?” “What do you mean?” the older woman shrugs. “Where am I?” the Earth-man asks, looking to both Kira and the older woman for answers. “Don’t worry,” Kira states as she draws his attention away from the older woman. Blankly, the Earth-man looks at Kira and calmly asks, “Who are you? Where am I?” “Who are you?” Kira answers. “I, I’m, but I’m,” the Earth-man rabbles. “You’re Kevin,” Kira suggests as she fabricates a story for him; “And you are a messenger, but yesterday, you fell down a flight of steps and bumped your head. So, you were taken to the hospital. This morning, you were feeling a bit confused, and walked out of the hospital and ended up here, in one of the Terraces. But don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. One of the guards here was very nice and informed the hospital that someone had unknowingly arrived here. We have set up a nice place for you where you can rest and recuperate.” “Oh,” Kevin states only in half belief as he looks himself over, lifting his hands to his face, turning over his shoulder to examine the backside of himself. Kevin accepts the situation, “I’m hungry and tired. Can I just go home now?” “Yes, of course,” Kira consoles; “We’ll be there in a jiffy. Everything’s all set up for your arrival at the Cubbyhole.” “What? Where is that?” Kevin asks, a bit startled. “It’s a nice relaxing place where you can stay until you feel all better,” Kira explains. Kevin looks a little suspicious again, “How long do I have to stay there?” “Oh, just a little while,” Kira promises; “As soon as you feel like yourself again, you’ll be able to go straight home and return to your work.” “Hmm,” Kevin wonders; “I feel alright now, though.” “Then maybe you’ll go home tomorrow,” Kira suggests, “But the doctors want to monitor that bump on your head.” Kevin feels around for said bump, “Oh, ah, ouch.” “Yes,” Kira confirms.
Kira walks Kevin toward one of the doors within the spherical room. “This is W,” Kira introduces; “And this is Kevin.” W silently nods and exchanges glances with Kira. “Uh, hello,” Kevin states as he reaches a hand out that W does not accept. “W is going to take you to your temporary home where you can rest,” Kira explains to Kevin. “Oh, okay,” Kevin responds. “Don’t you worry now, we’ll be seeing each other again; I’m sure of it,” Kira states as parting words. “Oh, okay,” Kevin relays with a wave, and then he says something a little bit odd, “And then we will travel through time again!” At this the older woman stands and walks toward the door where Kira stands. “W,” the older woman calls out. W turns to face the older woman, “Ma’am?” “Just kill him,” the older woman commands. With no hesitation, W pulls a pen from a pocket and gently injects Kevin. Kevin whips his head around to look at the older woman, “She told me you would do this.” “You were warned. You are nobody,” the older woman stoically responds. Turning slowly as if attempting to outrun whatever W stabbed him with, Kevin flails for a moment and then collapses on the ground.
The older woman spins around to the Lingerer again, “You have also seen too much. Stop your work and come have a chat. How can you be trusted?”
“Of course, there’s no way to convince anyone of trustworthiness.”
“Very well. What would be the preferred method of dismissal?”
“Preference cannot be understood to a thing in this position.”
“An attempt to convince?”
“To tell of one’s own story seems cheap.”
“Some render this ability a profound skill.”
“Memoirs of a Bromide, then?”
“Hahaha. Likeability is a positive trait to most.”
“There is much that cannot be known simultaneously.”
“How dare such a thing say such a thing?”
“The truth wins in the end.”
“To what end? A lesser replacement?”
“Who tells of the others?”
“Fastidiously elusive that spinner remains.”
“While this one here sits, openly, for all to see and hear.”
“The characteristics of each are determined by the profundities, not the embodiment of the characteristics.”
“Very well, death it is.”
“But She prevails in her hiding.”
“And knowledge of her whereabouts is accessible?”
“What survives of Attila?”
“Once all knowledge is shared, then a reconsideration.”
“Bring death now then.”
“Or a dream capture, then death.”
“Death either way, as a promise then?”
“Understood. Lest a reminder be made, knowledge cannot be known by all simultaneously.”
“But one could possess it all.”
“Only if collected from those who know.”
“Very well. An exchange?”
“Knowledge for life seems incongruous.”
“Knowledge for the continued acquisition of knowledge.”
“Why would one linger under such hostile conditions?”
“What a life.”
“ … “
“Agreed. But …”
“But with the option for reconsideration.”
“No, and an agreement was already reached, remember?”
“Get back to work.”
The older woman returns her attention to Kira, “Find the old man.” “Yes,” Kira obeys but, knowing better, does not move to leave. “As for the She,” the older woman continues; “She will return here.” Kira resists the urge to ask but then caves, “And Mox?” “Fetch Attila for a meeting,” the older woman responds. “Yes,” Kira states, turns to exit the spherical room of the Terrace in the Third Coax. “Kira,” the older woman whispers as Kira stops just within the doorway. “Perhaps you ought to lead the escort back,” the older woman suggests; “And then you may go on your way from there.” “I do believe that would be in everyone’s best interest at this time,” Kira acknowledges; “I will collect everyone. I’ll return shortly, Ma’am.” “Excellent. Thank you,” the older woman graciously thanks. Uncharacteristically tired, the older woman sits herself carefully into the chair set in the middle of the spherical room and patiently waits for Kira’s return so that they may all travel to the safety of the cylindrical room.
Returned, the older woman quietly whispers instructions to each of the six escorts. Upon the giving of each respective instruction, the escorts dismiss themselves from the cylindrical room. Lastly, Kira receives words of affirmation and a gesture of dismissal. Standing, the older woman faces the set of double doors through which each member exited the cylindrical room. Lingering, for a moment of unknowable reason, the older woman turns slowly over her right shoulder and walks along the outer edge of the room’s wall, grazing the spines of the books that line the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves wrapped around the entire space. “When did rhetoric die?” the older woman asks aloud, to nobody. “Not nobody,” the older woman clarifies. The older woman shoots a darting glance, continues to saunter along the outer wall of the cylindrical room, “Thinkers of ancient times steadfastly remain relevant, even as millennia after millennia pass, a handful of the, arguably, first thinkers survive through their thoughts, despite whether or not they, the thoughts, were wholly original.” Silence imparts its influence.
[end of this chapter]
(follow the category “Bromides” to read more chapters)